I recently returned from a week-long trip to Honolulu and I am happy to report that I did not have one instance of accidentally getting glutened. I did my research ahead of time to determine whether there were restaurants within Waikiki Beach offering gluten free menus and I did find some. (http://www.findmeglutenfree.com/us/hi/honolulu) But as it turned out, we did not dine at any of them. Instead, I did what I usually do and ordered off of the regular menu selecting items that I thought would be safe for my consumption without a high possibility of cross contamination.
Flying from Los Angeles to Honolulu, the flight only offered food for purchase. There was no need to call the airline ahead of time to make arrangements for a gluten-free meal. Instead, I picked up a salad at Wolfgang Pucks (http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g32655-d491787-Reviews-Wolfgang_Puck_Express_Terminal_7_LAX-Los_Angeles_California.html) and brought it on board. It came with salad dressing however I did not use it and instead seasoned my salad with salt and pepper. Since we were en route to Hawaii, I decided to purchase a Mai Tai to celebrate the occasion. Trader Vic’s premixed Mai Tai uses rum and we know that pure rum is gluten free (http://www.celiac.com/articles/222/1/Gluten-Free-Alcoholic-Beverages/Page1.html). Some syrups used in cocktail mixes can be risky but in this case, it was not a problem. Yes, I did pack my Indiana Jones hat on this trip as well and could have conceivably spent the next five hours in the lavatory but gladly this was not the case!
When we arrived in Honolulu we checked in at our hotel and ventured out on Kalakaua Avenue where a majority of the shops are located. For an early dinner we stopped off at the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center (http://www.royalhawaiiancenter.com/) where I picked up a quick taco at Maui Tacos. We were still full from our meal en route so fast food was a good choice for the time being. Of course, I verified that the tortillas were corn and not the soft flour tortillas they sometimes serve. As many of you know by now, always ask lots of questions.
The following morning, we had breakfast at the iHop that was located in the lobby of our hotel. We had a full day of exploring Waikiki and spending some serious time at the beach on our schedule so we wanted to get an early start. I wish I could have ordered the traditional Loco Moco but we know that hamburger and gravy are a no go for those of us on a gluten free diet. Instead, I opted for a boring breakfast of eggs, bacon and potatoes with a side of fresh fruit.
At the beach, we decided to cool off with some traditional Hawaiian shave ice and it proved to be a good decision. What about the flavoring on the shave ice you may ask. True, I took another gamble and it paid off. No reaction, just a brain freeze from eating this delectable freezing cold treat too fast! The best place to get shave ice in Waikiki was Wailoa however. This mom and pop establishment was recommended by a local friend and I must say, he was right on. The prices were amazingly reasonable given how expensive things are in Hawaii and again, no gluten reaction.
Dinner was at Gyu Kaku that evening. For those unfamiliar with the establishment, it is a traditional Japanese barbeque restaurant. The meat was not marinated as it tends to be at some of the traditional Korean barbeque restaurants and rather then seasoning the grilled meat with the three sauces provided, I used salt and pepper. The meat was tender and delicious so there was no need to drown it in any sauce. The grilled vegetables and the cheese fondue put the finishing touch on a simply wonderful meal accompanied by another Mai Tai. For dessert, the meal included s’mores. Although marshmallows and the Hershey’s chocolate are gluten free, the graham crackers are not so the dessert was a no-no for me. (http://celiacdisease.about.com/od/GlutenFreeSnacks/f/Marshmallows-Gluten-Free.htm)
The next day we stopped off at the nearby McDonalds recalling from our previous trip that they served a unique local breakfast platter. The breakfast platter served in Waikiki consists of rice, scrambled eggs, Portuguese sausage and SPAM. It was a cheap and delicious way to start off the day. SPAM is gluten free and so is the Portugeuses sausage (http://kelownaceliac.org/2010/03/19/spam-is-gluten-free/) The Portuguese sausage served in Hawaii is the Linguica type which is made from pork butt, paprika, garlic, chili pepper, cinnamon, all spice, cloves and vinegar. The pork is chopped into pieces rather than ground. Linguica is often sold in links or patties.
Later that day we had a Dole Whip, which if you haven’t tried yet, you should definitely add it to your bucket list of things to try. The Dole Whip is a soft serve dessert consisting of pineapple juice, vanilla,cream, sugar and milk. And oh yes, it was gluten free!
Eggs ‘n Things is a pretty popular place for breakfast for both tourists and locals. People literally wait in line with pagers to partake in the delectable items offered on their menu. They are especially known for their fluffy pancakes and crepes filled with fresh fruit and topped off with a mountain of whipped cream, but again, not something someone on a gluten free diet can consume. On the upside, they serve amazing omelets and the potatoes that come with your order are to die for.
Seaside Bar & Grill is a family owned restaurant that is convenient, affordable and open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Again, they do not offer a gluten free menu however it is easy to find items that are safe to consume. We had breakfast there twice and dinner one night. Dinner consisted of lobster tails served with corn on the cob, lemon butter sauce, and those marvelous potatoes they serve in Hawaii.
Toward the end of our stay, we had dinner at the Cheesecake Factory on Kalakaua Avenue as Duke’s Waikiki was not open yet and we were starving. The ahi carpaccio they serve there was amazing. It consists of thin slices of raw ahi tuna, wasabi pesto, and togarashi aioli. It makes my mouth water just thinking about it right now. That was the appetizer and for dinner I had the fresh grilled salmon with potatoes and broccoli (less the tartar sauce). I had to pass on the unbelievably large desserts but that was acceptable as I did not need the extra calories on this vacation!
On the return home, I stopped off at the California Pizza Kitchen (http://www.yelp.com/biz/california-pizza-kitchen-honolulu-4 ) at the Honolulu International Airport for another salad. The self-service area is very convenient and offers a lot in the way of salads, sandwiches, etc.
Traveling is becoming easier the longer I pursue this gluten free lifestyle. I hope that by sharing my experiences with you, I have helped you to become less apprehensive about traveling and more enthusiastic about enjoying life. After all, you have determined the cause of your “mystery Illnesses” and have embarked on a better quality of life by pursuing a gluten free diet. Now go out there and enjoy!!!